Goddess By Mistake
Looking for a change from the usual? Whatever else can be said about Goddess By Mistake, from its crazy plot to its wacky characters to its, shall we say, colorful cover art, it is a sharp left turn away from the same old thing.
At an estate auction, Shannon Parker spots a strange piece of pottery with what appears to be her own likeness on it. She buys it, and before she knows it she’s been transported to a fantastic realm, where she lives in a palatial temple, has endless wardrobes filled with beautiful clothes, and where she is waited on hand and foot by beautiful slaves, male and female. What a nightmare!
It seems that this is a mirror universe (a concept that should be familiar to Trekkies and comic book geeks everywhere), and Shannon has switched places with her counterpart. She is now living the life of Rhiannon, high priestess of the goddess Epona, while Rhiannon (apparently a real witch-with-a-B) has taken over Shannon’s life as a high school English teacher in Oklahoma. Shannon must now cope with Rhiannon’s numerous problems: a terrifying invasion of rape-bent winged vampiric monsters; an outbreak of a mysterious epidemic; and political marriage to ClanFintan, a hostile but sexy centaur. (Exactly how does a human consummate marriage to a centaur? Shannon worries about that one.)
The story is told in Shannon’s first person point of view, and she is an engaging narrator, constantly making sassy wisecrakcs and adapting her knowledge of literature to aid her in these bizarre new circumstances. She is also genuinely interested in other women and, unusually in heroines, gathers about her a diverse group of girlfriends rather than relying on the hero for companionship. The threat she faces – the one with the rapist winged vampires, I mean – is truly frightening, and the resolution to it is both suspenseful and clever.
That said, there are several points of this story that require a lot of suspension of disbelief. I’m not referring to the fantasy goddess universe thing – that I could swallow. I had more trouble with how Shannon’s chief slave, Alanna, easily became her bosom buddy. I would think that the slave/master dynamic would tend to put an unwelcome strain on any relationship. Also, Shannon is serenely convinced that (a) the mysterious epidemic is smallpox; and (b) that she can’t get it because she’s been innoculated. How does she know? A few uncertainties on this score would have been very believable and also serve to heighten the tension.
Other criticisms: there’s so much going on here that Shannon’s relationship with ClanFintan gets lost towards the end, and Shannon’s smart mouth gets a little old after a while.
One note on the sensuality rating: although the love scenes in this book are few and subtle, there’s tons of sexual tension and some frank language about sex. Also, those who like to avoid books depicting violence against women might want to steer clear of this one: those winged-vampire rapists are pretty disturbing.
Still and all, this book gets big points for originality, style, humor, and sheer exuberance of storytelling. Shannon is excellent company on this trip, commenting with American wryness about her fantastic surroundings and new, luxurious lifestyle. The pace of the plot is set at a headlong gallop. The path it follows is pure escapism: Shannon faces every threat with courage and a few sassy quips, and gets to take frequent breaks for meals, baths, and lovemaking with ClanFintan. By the end you’ll feel like another of Shannon’s cherished girlfriends.
For a wild ride and a rollicking good time all around, pick up Goddess By Mistake – you probably won’t find it at your local Wal-Mart, but follow the Amazon link below. More good news: looks like a sequel is in the works, too.